Huge disparities in women’s equality in Nigeria.
Nigeria is the most populous country and the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, with high rates of both poverty and income inequality. States vary enormously in religion, culture and language, human development, and income. Nigeria is home to nearly 350 ethnic groups speaking more than 250 languages. All 37 Nigerian states had sufficient data to enable estimating subnational WPS Index scores.
The best index scores are concentrated in the south, and the worst in the north. This reflects broader economic and social trends. People in the south appear to have benefited from a demographic dividend (a growing share of working age population), urbanization, rising human capital, and greater job opportunities. In the northeast, a lack of infrastructure, low levels of education, poor health outcomes, and persistently high levels of poverty have been associated with conflict and instability.
Ekiti, a southwestern state rich in natural resources, is the top performer on the subnational index, leading in women’s cellphone use and parliamentary representation. Lagos State follows close behind, with the highest rates of education and financial inclusion but relatively weak performance on the security index, ranking 19 of 37 states. This poor showing for security can be traced to high rates of organized violence and intimate partner violence; almost 13 percent of women in Lagos have experienced violence from a partner in the past year. The city of Lagos—Nigeria’s largest metropolitan area and a major economic hub—has high levels of women’s employment but no women in parliament. Lagos does perform well on several other health and gender equality indicators, including having the lowest rate of adolescent pregnancy nationally—1 percent compared with 32 percent in Bauchi.
Yobe has the worst state score, followed by Adamawa and Borno. They have the highest rates of organized violence, largely associated with Boko Haram, although their rates of intimate partner violence are relatively low. Yobe is second to the bottom on inclusion, with the second to lowest rates of women’s employment and financial inclusion and poor outcomes in education.
Overall weak achievements in the states that lag on the WPS subnational index appear to be both a cause and an outcome of insecurity. Conflict has displaced millions of people or made them food insecure. School enrollment has been declining as Boko Haram targeted schools and teachers and added further brutality to its terrorism by kidnapping schoolgirls and forcing women and children to join in attacks, including as suicide bombers
Nigeria has the largest disparities of any of the three countries examined. Almost 75 percent of women in Rivers have a secondary education, compared with fewer than 4 percent in Sokoto. Almost all the women in Kwara participate in decision-making, whereas just over 1 percent in Sokoto do so. Rates of intimate partner violence vary widely as well. Notably, this is the only indicator that is generally worse in the south than in the north. The subnational results for Nigeria emphasize the importance of looking behind national averages, especially in countries with sizable regional and other inequalities.